Wednesday, May 14

FactChecking McCain

FactCheck has the dope on John McCain's questionable economic policies:

McCain’s big promise is that he can balance the budget while extending Bush’s tax cuts and adding a few of his own. He likes to leave the impression that this can be done painlessly, for example, by eliminating "wasteful" spending in the form of “earmarks” that lawmakers like to tuck into spending bills to finance home-state projects. We found that not only is this theory full of holes, it's not even McCain's actual plan. In this story we examine the spending-cut side of McCain's budget program. In Part II, we'll look at what McCain has said about taxes.

McCain's pronouncements on cutting spending, and even on the growth in the size of the federal government, are dubious at best:

* McCain seems to say that he can save $100 billion by cutting out earmarks. But budget experts say that cutting earmarks would actually save very little. And questioned more closely, McCain's campaign now says that his planned savings have nothing to do with eliminating earmarks.

* With earmarks out as a potential source of savings, McCain hasn't said what he'd cut out of the discretionary budget to get to $100 billion. He's even indicated that defense spending might increase. If defense spending is off the table, saving $100 billion would require 18.5 percent across-the-board cuts in every other discretionary program, including things like student loans, veterans programs and highway construction. The alternative would be severe cuts in a few programs, as yet unnamed.

* McCain says that "just in the last few years" the government has puffed up "by 40 percent, by trillions." Actually, it has taken federal spending a decade to grow 40 percent, and even longer to grow by "trillions." This year federal spending is projected to come to $2.45 trillion, including $1.4 trillion for Social Security, Medicare, military spending and veterans programs.

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